Authors defend rights booklet Print E-mail
Monday, 26 July 2004


Authors of a new booklet outlining citizens' rights under terrorism laws insist it's not designed to stop people cooperating with anti-terrorism authorities.


The 37-page Terrorism Laws: ASIO, the Police and You, aims to inform Australians of their rights when facing interrogation for suspected terrorism offences.

The booklet was prepared by the Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network (AMCRAN), NSW Council for Civil Liberties and the University of Technology Community Law Centre.


It covers the penalties of various offences under the raft of anti-terrorist legislation passed by state and federal governments since 2002, and lists terrorism groups which have been outlawed.


It also covers the powers of spy agency ASIO and the Australian Federal Police.


"Though their powers are broad, ASIO and the AFP's actions are not beyond scrutiny," the booklet says.


"There are avenues of redress for people affected by the exercise of these powers, some of which are outlined in this booklet."

The booklet highlights the fact that ASIO can only search your house if they have a warrant, while the AFP can search without one if they reasonably suspect evidence needs to be seized urgently.


It also points out that individuals have the right to request an interpreter and that any legal representative must be provided with a copy of any warrants.


The booklet's authors insist it is not counterproductive.


"I think that knowledge of the law is the foundation of a healthy democracy," AMCRAN convenor Waleed Kadous told ABC radio.


"I can't see that letting people know what both their rights and responsibilities are is actually counterproductive.

"In fact, it might actually have the opposite effect on people ... when they see how severe the punishments are and the consequences of their actions, (they) might choose not to indulge."


While the booklet says there is little doubt the Muslim community bears the brunt of the current legislation in Australia, Dr Kadous said the booklet was aimed at the wider community.


All of the people arrested so far in Australia under the new anti-terrorist laws have been Muslim, while all of the 17 proscribed terrorist organisations currently outlawed were linked to Islamic organisations.


"That is different to, say, the United States where less than 60 per cent of the organisations listed are linked to Islamist groups," the booklet said.


© 2004 AAP, The Age, July 26, 2004


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